GLSEN Hudson Valley Co-Chair Rob Conlon with community leadersLocal youth created a “Garden of Kindness” featuring paper flowers inscribed with acts of kindness

This week is GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, a week where teachers and students across the country focus on ending name-calling and bullying in their schools. Over the last several years, GLSEN Hudson Valley has worked to implement No Name-Calling Week each year, and we’ve learned three key ways that schools can put kindness in action and make schools safer and more affirming for all.

1. Use GLSEN’s top-notch resources

At GLSEN Hudson Valley, we found that many educators, given the depth of resources for the program, just didn’t know where to start. In response, we developed an “Activities Menu” and asked educators to choose just one activity to implement. The approach has been a success. Since 2010, hundreds of schools in the Hudson Valley have participated in No Name-Calling Week, and schools are growing in the numbers of activities they choose, this year implementing four on average.

Most inspiring are those schools that tell us they keep up No Name-Calling Week posters all year long. After all, it should be No Name-Calling Year in every school, every year.

GLSEN Hudson Valley No Name-Calling Week Activities Menu

2. Take No Name-Calling Week outside the classroom

We shared the exciting work schools were doing for No Name-Calling Week with a coalition of organizations concerned about school climate and safety. Members overwhelmingly agreed that we needed to reinforce the tenets of the week outside of school walls. With support from the coalition, GLSEN Hudson Valley began promoting No Name-Calling Week activities to youth-serving organizations, faith communities, and community libraries.

One of these organizations was a local YWCA, which initially signed up to implement activities in their after-school program. At the start of the week, the adult employees agreed to toss a quarter in a jar any time they heard colleagues (or themselves) engage in name-calling or disrespectful behavior. At the end of the week, there was enough money in the jar to buy lunch for the whole staff. They told us it was a wake-up call to everyone. If they witnessed each other engaging in name-calling so often throughout the week, surely the youth they work with were seeing the same thing. It taught them the importance of not only teaching respect, but modeling respect as well.

3. Let students express kindness through art

GLSEN Hudson Valley also worked with community partners to hold a student creative expression contest. Schools were encouraged to engage students in creative expression activities for No Name-Calling Week. This year, for the third year in a row, student’s No Name-Calling Week art will be on display at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. Students and educators can still submit to GLSEN’s national creative expression exhibit and share how they are creating a culture of respect for all in their schools.

Make sure to register for GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week, and you can use GLSEN’s resources at any time during the year. How will you put #KindnessInAction in your school?

Rob Conlon is Co-Chair of GLSEN Hudson Valley.